The EC chief tried to use its `no power’ mantra to refute the 8 demands from Bersih. It is clear that without the threat from a Bersih march the EC normally would not even bother to address the people’s demands for free and fair elections-so keep pushing!
Demand 1: clean up electoral roll- EC has no power to clean up except on demand from voters themselves. What if the voters had died?
Demand 2: 21 days campaigning-EC will study financial and security aspects. But 21 days campaigning is allowed by the laws and actually is on the low side compared to regional international practices; The higher financial costs is from the police whose cost is caused by short nomination period and extremely short campaign period. The latter issue make it difficult for Opposition and ruling parties to stop campaigning even on the polling days-which is against international best practice to stop campaigning on polling day. The campaigning at nomination and polling day generate tension which require massive police mobilisation and expenses; So actually lengthening nomination and campaigning period will reduce expenses-not increasing it as implied by the EC;
Demand 3: indelible ink-almost all regional neighbours and Asian countries are practising this to stop multiple voting. Only EC is complaining about it as a `primitive’ method and ask for biometric system. The EC is on shaky ground as the indelible ink is a low cost and tested technique while the biometric system has not been tested even in developed countries. Further the objections of the EC on indelible ink had proven to be unsustainable -the security concern had been disproved; the legal issue can be addressed by legal amendments-why is the EC not pushing for it ahead of 13th GE
Demand 4: Fair access to media: as the highest authority in election administration EC can bring its authority to demand fair access from public and monopolised private media to provide balanced access to the media. If the media refuse to cooperate the EC can demand a certain pages and air time from all the media and distribute the media access to all parties/candidates equitably as done in many countries eg Sri Lanka.
Demand 5: anti-corruption-if the MACC refused to handle vote buying and other corruption issue the EC can develop its own investigation and even prosecution power by suitably amend the legal provisions; Already the EC has a legal advisor -what it takes is only to amplify the department to give it sufficient investigation power; failing this the police can also and had been investigating corruption;
Demand 6:The civil service’s neutrality-many returning officers and other civil servants have defied EC’s rule to engage in campaigning for the ruling parties; the EC just need to speak to the Chief Secretaries of the Federal and State governments to clamp down on such abuses of the civil service; it is a matter of will as the legal provisions are all there-so in this case the EC have no complaint that it cannot do it based on lack of legal provisions;
Demand 7: Postal vote reformation-since all regional countries allow postal votes to their citizens who live overseas or cannot return to vote on polling days EC can learn from them eg using the opportunity as international observers in Thai elections; This has been an issue of no will rather than no knowledge!
Demand 8: Stop dirty politics-if the media is not monopolised by 1 party-the ruling party much of the dirty politics that currently plague the politics of the country can be addressed/countered. So why the EC won’t use its Constitutionally provided power to do the necessary corrections ?
From a survey of the EC’s responses to the 8 demands it is clear that the EC’s incapacities is but an excuse to cover up the partisanship of the EC to favour the BN. It is time the EC is taken to task along the BN politicians to clean up the election process!
EC mulls inviting international observers
Posted on July 2, 2011, Saturday(Borneo Post)
BANGKOK: The Election Commission (EC) is looking into inviting international observers in the coming election, EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said.
Saying that allowing international observers was a good practice, he said the EC would, however, look into various aspects including costs before deciding on the matter.
Speaking in an interview with TV3 and Bernama, here, Abdul Aziz said the move would allow the observers to see for themselves the way Malaysia conducts its elections.
Abdul Aziz is here on the invitation of Thailand’s election commission to monitor the country’s election tomorrow.
Malaysia is among 13 countries invited to observe the election — a move which Thailand hopes will enhance confidence of the international community in the country’s election.
Abdul Aziz described the invitation as an honour to the EC, saying it reflects confidence in the commission’s ability and in Malaysia’s election system.
“If they didn’t recognise our election system, they would not have called us to become part of the international observers,” he said.
When asked what were the criteria of a free and fair election in the eyes of the international observers, Abdul Aziz said, electors should be free to vote and not being influenced or forced to vote only for certain parties.
The candidates, on the other hand, should be free to campaign, he said.
Electors should be allow to listen to or follow the campaign and there should be no fraud or corruption.
Asked on the eight demands by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), Abdul Aziz said, there was always a room for improvement.
He stressed that the EC did not view itself as a perfect entity.
He also explained the EC’s positions with respect to some of the demands, including:
u Clean the electoral roll: He said this was being done on a daily basis but the public should also play their role in informing the EC about their status. There was no proof of voters being able to cast their votes more than once and that there had been no such cases being brought to the court.
u Minimum 21 days campaign period: The EC is looking into this, as well as the request for the campaign period to be shortened. The EC will also look into the matter from the security aspect.
u Use of indelible ink: The EC is looking into the use of the much more scientific biometric system.
u Free and fair access to media: The EC cannot order the media to provide coverage for any party. The EC, however, can discuss with the media to give space to all parties.
u Stop corruption: The EC agrees with this but it has no expertise on the matter.
The EC, he said, would get the help of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
u Strengthen public institutions: He said this was not within the EC’s jurisdictions.
u Reform postal ballot system: The EC is looking into this, including the proposal for an advance voting system similar to the one implemented by Thailand, with electors allowed to vote earlier or on polling day.
The system, however, had its own inherent problems, he said.
He stressed that some of the demands were not under the EC’s jurisdictions.
Bersih had initially submitted 17 demands but reduced them to eight following discussions with the EC, he added.
“Had Bersih continued with the discussion, we would have been able to reduce them to about three issues,” he said, adding that Bersih’s illegal rally planned for June 9 would not solve anything.
“Demonstrations won’t solve anything. It doesn’t mean that the EC will agree to their demand if they demonstrate,” he said.